Cuba’s Daily Soap Opera Stories (Part IV)
HAVANA TIMES – When I came to live here in the capital, 17 years ago, my relations with cats were poor – I rejected them outright. My stepfather always told me that they were disloyal animals, and since childhood that was the only animal which I had difficulty getting along with.
Also, a cat bit me when I was a boy because I bent down to pick it up off the floor and I hurt it. Nonetheless, I felt that there was something that I wasn’t understanding well, and I needed to rethink.
There was a small group of those captivating animals here, but very wild street cats. For years I merely observed them, until the day when the cat who I today call Grandmother had two small descendents. The male cat grew up and left the neighborhood and only the female cat was left. Grandmother all but gave her into my hands for adoption.
That kitten grew up and has had several litters. Of the one before last, only one male cat (Tito) survived, the first tamed cat that I have tried to protect.
In my hallway there’s a neighbor who ignorantly loathes cats. He, like my stepfather, holds to the belief that they are unfaithful and thieving animals. Every so often he tells me proudly of the way in which he killed one of the cats who entered his house to steal the meat that he had left in the kitchen. It was one of the largest cats in the neighborhood.
His lack of knowledge and his abuse bothered me, but he went even further when he tried to poison them with ground glass and another substance that I couldn’t identify.
Sadly, this mixture reached the mouth of my little protected cat via a piece of meat that I couldn’t keep him from eating. The cat went three days with nearly dry eyes and without eating. I went so far as to shed tears as if someone had killed a person close to me.
But it seems to be true what they say – that cats have seven lives – because to my joy, on the fourth day she began eating again. The tiny pieces of glass that caused the crisis so resembling death couldn’t finish “Ñiñi” off.
Not content with one death, my neighbor also killed three kittens of approximately a month and a half with his bare hands, the children of another litter of the female cat who was Ñiñi’s mother as well.
I had been protecting the little ones since I knew of the imminent danger, but I can’t stop working to care for cats. Since they were little they trusted him and came down to him without suspecting.
I found all this out when I arrived home on the afternoon of the destruction. It’s useless to try to reason with him that it’s not a good idea to kill animals who even keep us free of mice.
Nothing’s easy in this world and in the end my neighbor is a desperately unhappy man, a fact that doesn’t cheer me up at all. He cries daily for his two children who chose to live outside of Cuba, something he never expected to happen.
The son didn’t even let him know the day he left. He suffers because his children aren’t doing very well outside the country and he thinks that if they were here he’d be able to help them.